WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump announced he will nominate State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to be the next ambassador to the United Nations.
"I am pleased to announce that Heather Nauert, Spokeswoman for the United States Department of State, will be nominated to serve as United Nations Ambassador. I want to congratulate Heather, and thank Ambassador Nikki Haley for her great service to our Country!" the president tweeted Friday.
The 48-year-old would replace Ambassador Nikki Haley who has been a vocal advocate for US foreign policy – and a strong supporter of Israel at the UN.
It's a tradition Sam Brownback, the US ambassador for International Religious Freedom, is confident Nauert will continue. He points to the time when President Trump moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, noting that Nauert faced the heat for the unpopular decision straight on as State Department spokesman.
"She stood up there and defended the ground because there was a lot of media and people around the world pushing against that...she's going to be a strong supporter of Israel. She already has been," he told CBN News.
In terms of religious freedom, Brownback notes Nauert's intimate knowledge and the hands-on approach she took to the recent religious freedom ministerial conference at the State Department.
"She's been here at the highest levels dealing with issues of foreign affairs all over the place, a very strong voice for religious freedom when we did our religious freedom ministerial," Brownback said. "She was out there pushing the topics...One of the key things from that position is the voice that you give because it is such a public position."
Nauert has served as the State Department spokesperson since April 2017. She was later appointed as acting undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, making the former broadcast journalist one of the highest ranking women in the agency.
Trump's nomination of Nauert comes at a time when the US finds itself embroiled in some tumultuous international relations with allies, like Canada and France. Struggles with authoritarian regimes such as Russia, China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia are also part of the daily headlines.
With that in mind, some skeptics are concerned that Nauert, a former Fox News anchor, may not have enough experience to handle the UN post.
"In terms of what we normally look for at the United Nations, her resume is very thin," David Gergen, who served in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton administrations, told CNN's Anderson Cooper, adding that the UN post is not "strictly a communications job."
"Traditionally, we've either had people with a lot of experience in international affairs and/or a lot of experience as academics," he said.
However, some may have said the same about Haley when she was picked for the post since she had only served in state government. But conservatives deem her tenure at the UN to be a huge success.
Still, critics like Indiana University international relations professor David Bosco are opposing the move. He tells USA Today, "Her only real foreign policy is this stint at the State Department in a kind of spokesperson role. Nor does she have what Haley had, which was significant high-level governing experience. So, as I look at who we have had in this position over the decades, I think Nauert would be one of the least prepared for this position."
Nevertheless, the White House appears confident Nauert is the right person to fill the role.
"She's very talented, very smart, very quick," the president told reporters gathered on the South Lawn of the White House Friday. "I think she's going to be respected by all."
Nauert would need to be confirmed by the US Senate, but if she passes that hurdle, she would become a top voice for Trump's foreign policy.
In one of her recent tweets, Nauert reflected a tough stance against Russia saying: "Ten days since Russia attacked Ukrainian ships and detained 24 personnel in the Black Sea. We join the EU and our Allies in calling on #Russia to immediately release the sailors and their vessels. #Crimea is #Ukraine. #Peace4Ukraine"
Ten days since Russia attacked Ukrainian ships and detained 24 personnel in the Black Sea. We join the EU and our Allies in calling on #Russia to immediately release the sailors and their vessels. #Crimea is #Ukraine. #Peace4Ukraine
— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) December 5, 2018